Home Office should be split in two to curb migration, ex-minister says

UK

Former Tory immigration minister Robert Jenrick has called for the Home Office to be split in two as part of a 30-point plan to curb migration.

Mr Jenrick, who is seen as a potential Conservative leadership contender, has been ramping up pressure on Rishi Sunak over the issue after quitting his government post last year.

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In a report he co-authored for the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), a centre-right think-tank, the MP for Newark said the government must “undo the disastrous post-Brexit liberalisations” that have “betrayed” the public’s wish for lower immigration.

He proposed a number of policies that should be implemented ahead of the looming general election, including breaking up the Home Office to create a department more focused on border control.

He said voters “deserve a department whose sole mission is controlling immigration and securing our borders”.

The proposals also include capping health and care visas at 30,000, scrapping the graduate route for international students, and indexing salary thresholds for visa routes in line with inflation.

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Mr Jenrick said: “It would be unforgivable if the government did not use the time before the general election to undo the disastrous post-Brexit liberalisations that betrayed the express wishes of the British public for lower immigration.

“The changes we propose today would finally return numbers to the historical norm and deliver the highly selective, highly-skilled immigration system voters were promised.

“These policies could be implemented immediately and would consign low-skilled mass migration to the past.”

Mr Jenrick was the immigration minister between October 2022 and December 2023.

He quit over the government’s inability to get the Rwanda deportation policy off the ground, and has since become one of the Mr Sunak’s loudest critics, particularly on migration.

Official estimates published in November indicated the net migration figure – the difference between the number of people arriving and leaving Britain – reached a record 745,000 in 2022.

The 2019 Tory manifesto promised to bring the “overall number down”.

The intervention comes amid a pessimistic mood with the Conservative Party following a bruising set of local election results.

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Rwanda bill ‘a bucket full of holes’

Many Tories on the right believe caps on legal migration and getting flights to Rwanda in order to “stop the boats” is the best way to give the party a fighting chance at the general election, which the prime minister has admitted he might not win.

Read More:
Home Office figures show how vital immigration is to the economy

The government is introducing a raft of restrictions in a bid to cut the number of people legally arriving in Britain, including a ban on overseas care workers bringing family dependants to the UK and a drastically hiked salary threshold for skilled workers to £38,700.

A government spokesperson said: “The prime minister and home secretary have been clear that current levels of migration are far too high. That is why the government announced a plan to cut the number of migrants that would have come last year to the UK by 300,000 – the largest reduction ever.

“This plan is working, with the latest statistics showing applications across three major visa categories are down by 24%.

“Our approach is fair – reducing immigration and ensuring businesses invest in and recruit from the domestic workforce, whilst prioritising the overseas workers and students who will contribute significantly to our economy.”

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